Christmas Memories

Bringing home the perfect Christmas tree

Bringing home the perfect Christmas tree

Oh what memories this season brings back, from trimming the tree, to Christmas shopping, making gifts and singing Christmas carols as the family gathered around the piano while my mother played one favorite tune after another.

Trimming the tree was a family event.  We all got involved.  When we were still pretty little our dad would take us all on a hike to gather pine cones and sweet gum balls.  We would take our treasures home and at Christmas time they were coated with sparkly glitter.  What a gluey glittery mess, but our decorations looked GREAT on the tree!  Other times we’d string popcorn, or make colorful construction paper chains that would go all around the tree.  The star on top was cut out of cardboard and covered in tinfoil.  Our tree might not have been considered House Beautiful material, but to us it was the prettiest tree anywhere.

Shopping was a little difficult for me and not nearly as much fun as making the decorations.  We had to split up inside the store to keep the others from finding out what we were giving them for Christmas.  Our mother would make suggestions on what to get for our father, but nobody ever said what we should get for our mother, so I was left on my own to figure that out.  I didn’t do a very good job.  I had a quarter to spend on gifts for my parents.  I remember one year I got my mom a tiny little tube of mascara.  I had no idea what it was except that it was for grown up women and it only cost a dime.  Only thing was, my mom didn’t wear make-up!  Everybody laughed about that one!  But she thanked me for the gift anyway, and years later I remember seeing it in her jewelry box…hard as a rock, but still a treasured keepsake.  I usually got my dad a new handkerchief or a tie.

A week or so before Christmas our mother would have us kids sit on the couch and call us into her sewing room one at a time.  She would then begin the process of making gifts for one of us that would be given to the other two.  When our gifts were done we hid them in our shirts as we passed by the two waiting siblings and go and hide it in our parent’s bedroom where my mother would later wrap it for us.

There was one Christmas tradition in our family that I loved and hated.  Every year on Christmas Eve, we would open our gifts from each other right after our evening meal.  That was the part I loved!  The part I hated was waiting for my father to finish eating.  It seemed like he always ate slower on Christmas Eve than at any other time of year, and It never failed that when he was finally finished eating he ALWAYS asked for a second helping of pie.  Of course that would always delay the gift opening part.  My brother, sisters, and I, used to beg him not to have seconds on pie…but pie is his favorite dessert, so we had to wait.  Pie is a favorite of mine too, but it could have waited until AFTER the gifts had been opened!  I think Daddy really enjoyed making us all wait a tiny bit longer.  We still tease him about it today.

Yep, I love Christmas!  Just about everything about this time of year can make me recall those Christmases from long ago.

Kathy Williams  The Book Worm

 

 

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Poetry

Bobby, Daddy, Nancy & Kathy

Bobby, Daddy, Nancy & Kathy 

Our daddy has always been a poet
and he made sure his kids would know it
and so he sent us off to school
armed with more than the golden rule

My mind was filled with words to rhyme
and meter out in sing song time
the words would dance inside my head
until it was time to go to bed

One day at school the question came up…
How much wood would a wood chuck chuck.
I knew this answer from my Dad
and share it here to make him glad.
-Nancy Rose Lawrence

“A wood chuck ain’t gonna chuck no wood.
He ain’t cuz he cain’t, and he wouldn’t if he could.
His back’s too weak and his mind’s too dim.
Would you not like to chuck wood for him?”
-A.D. Rose

The Book Worm

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Holding Your Mouth Right

Daddy

Daddy

My Dad used to tell us that when you’re trying to do something you’ve got to hold your mouth just right in order to get the job done.  I don’t know why, but it always worked.  No matter what the job was, whether it was opening a jar of food, or figuring out a math problem, everything worked just fine as long as we were holding our mouth just right.

Apparently my sister and I were not holding our mouths right when we published our father’s book on Lulu last week.  Once we saw the finished product we were not happy with the way it looked.  The formatting we had worked so hard on had been kind of mangled up.  The poems were especially messed up.  My sister is a bit more of a perfectionist than I am, but we both agree we want it to look perfect for our father, as well as have a higher quality product for those who purchase his book.  SO, we have retired the book from Lulu and it is not for sale at the moment until the bugs have been worked out and my sister and I can get our act together and fix it.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone planning on buying Rose’s Ramblings.  We will get it all figured out. I just hope and pray it’ll be sooner rather than later.  Honestly it didn’t look all that bad, it’s just that it didn’t look as good as we thought it would.

Thanks for your understanding and patience!

Kathy Williams    The Book Worm

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On Grieving…

Bobby...my brother at Easter

Bobby…my brother at Easter

Grieving is an inevitable part of life.  Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the pain and heartache that only grief can cause.  When we lost my brother in 1987 grief overtook our lives.  On returning home after the funeral, I was inconsolable and living so far away from my parents and sisters seemed to magnify the loss of my brother.  In the mornings my husband and daughter would leave for work and school and there I was in that empty house all alone with my thoughts and tears.

I remember one day I felt like I was drowning in sorrow and there was nothing that was going to make me feel better…ever.  Then out of thin air I felt an arm…one that I recognized as my brother’s, encircle my shoulders and give me a Heavenly hug.  My brother reached between that thin veil that separates us from our loved ones in order to comfort me in my grief.  It was then that my tears of grief began to subside and I knew my brother still lived…on the other side.  I think it was that same day I decided I’d try to read…one of my favorite pastimes.  The book I chose seemed to have been pointed out to me.  I didn’t know where I had gotten it.  I read it from cover to cover and received more comfort.  I don’t remember who wrote it or what the title was, but it was about someone who had died and come back to explain what Heaven was like.  After I read that book, it disappeared and I never saw it again.  Some may not believe in life after death, but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

You may be wondering why I would choose to blog about this particular subject.  The answer is simple.  While I was dealing with my own grief, my father was coming to terms with his in a different way.  Many of the poems in his book, “Rose’s Ramblings” describe the agony and grief that he was going through after losing his only son.  For anyone who may be dealing with the loss of a loved one now, I believe my father’s words would be of some comfort to you.

Kathy Williams

Below are excerpts from “Reflections of a Father Who Has Known Grief” by A.D. Rose

“I had always assumed that all of my children would live on after my death.  Because I had never thought of any other possibility, I could not believe that God would let one of them die.  I was sitting in Bob’s room at St. Mary Corwin Hospital and praying for his recovery when he drew his last breath.  I had experienced grief at the death of parents, brothers, and others who meant much to me, but nothing in my life had prepared me for the crushing blow of pain that staggered me when I saw Bob’s emaciated body lying still, no longer struggling for the breath of life.  I was truly disappointed that God had not taken me instead of him.

When we love someone, we become vulnerable to the excruciating sorrow that can fall upon us when that loved one is taken away by death.  It’s a risk that goes with being a parent, for most parents love their children.  Although I’ll never stop grieving for Bob, I’m glad he was, and still is, my son.  The joy he brought into my life more than compensated for the pain I endured because of his death.  My great regret is that I did not always have the time or patience to appreciate what he meant to me.

When I first knew he was dying of cancer, I told him I wished I could change places with him.  His reply was, “Even if that were possible, I wouldn’t allow it.”  I wanted to protect him from suffering.  He wanted to protect me from seeing him suffer.  He managed to keep smiling right up to the last.

Did I really lose my son?  At first, in the depths of grief, I thought I had lost him.  To human eyes death seems final.  It must have appeared that way to those who saw Jesus die on the cross.  Although it still takes great effort, I try to look beyond the tomb to the resurrection.”

More words of comfort coming soon, in “Rose’s Ramblings”.  Check in at the Book Worm for publication date.

Kathy Williams  The Book Worm

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Life on the Rose Farm

Today’s blog was written by my little sister, Carmela.  These are her memories of Life on the Rose Farm.

Scan0087   I always get a warm feeling inside when I remember growing up on the farm in Harleton, Texas.  I was the baby of the family, so a lot of my memories at that time are pretty fuzzy.  There are a few things that stand out quite clearly in my mind, however.  We laugh about them at family get-togethers.  Like the time when Kathy wanted to fly away with the crows.  She had me convinced that she was going to make some wings.  I don’t know how many chicken feathers I gathered for her that year!  Or there was the time when Kathy was gathering eggs in the henhouse and a spider got caught in her throat.  Don’t ask me how that happened, and I’m sure it was very unpleasant for Kathy at the time, but we all had fun laughing about it after the fact.

But I can’t just pick on Kathy, although she was definitely one of the more interesting people in our family.  Anyone who thinks skunk smells good…never mind.

I don’t really remember this but Mom always tells a story about Bob and the bobby pins.  She said that Nancy and Kathy always left their bobby pins about on the floor, tables, wherever, and when they needed them, they didn’t have them–so enterprising Bob decided to go into the business of gathering up the bobby pins and selling them back to Kathy and Nancy.  I heard tell he made quite a lot of money that way.  There was also the time when I slammed the door of Bob’s new Corvair on Daddy’s thumb.  Sorry, Dad.  At least his nail grew back in a few months.  Didn’t one of the cats have kittens inside that car?

I remember Nancy bringing home a dog “Classie”.  I don’t remember what kind of dog she was, but I remember spending many hours outside playing with that faithful friend.  She taught me how to dig in the dirt to lie down–it was much cooler that way.  I also had a pet cat named “Snowball”.  She had lots of babies and we always had kittens to play with.

There was the time I tried to befriend a wild cat and had to get stitches in my head for my efforts.  There was the time when the little boy down the road came over and shouted, “Ya’ll’s bare bottom’s on fire!”  I still don’t know what he meant by that.

I remember watching “Mr. Ed” and “Captain Kangaroo” on our old black and white television.  I remember watching the first man to walk on the moon on that TV as well as news of the assassination of President Kennedy.  I was sitting in Mom’s lap when it came on to interrupt our regular shows.  I was too young to understand the implications, but I knew that something terrible had happened to the man who ran our country.

I remember one Christmas season when I was about four years old, and it snowed–a monumental event in East Texas.  Everything was covered with pristine white and for the first time in my life I knew what a winter wonderland really looked like.  We all dressed up in our warmest clothes and walked to the woods at the far end of our property.  We picked out the perfect Christmas tree, chopped it down, and carried it back to the farmhouse to decorate it.

Mom always had presents for us on Christmas day without fail, regardless if there was money to buy them or not.  Usually, she spent all year long working on the making of them.  She sewed clothes for us, clothes for our dolls, made candy and goodies and all kinds of wonderful things.  After Christmas was over, the tree would come down and it would lie outside behind the house for weeks afterwards, making the perfect place to crawl into and take a nap.  Mom and Dad could never figure out why I always had icicles in my hair when I came inside.

I remember mealtime on the farm-it was the best time of the day.  The family was always together at the dinner table.  The smells were wonderful.  Mom always had freshly baked rolls or biscuits hot from the oven dripping with melted butter.  Sometimes Nancy helped her make supper, and if Bob got wind of it he would deliberately goad her and say supper tasted horrible!  But then he would laugh and eat second helpings!

We used to have a baby calf on the farm and we treated it like a pet.  We named him “Bully Boy”.  We knew we couldn’t keep him, but when he was butchered and placed on our plates, nobody would eat!

I remember getting into the old Dodge Dart and turning on the 4-70 air conditioner–that is, we rolled down four windows and drove 70 miles per hour, as my Dad used to say.  Sometimes we drove to Pittsburg to see Mama and Granddaddy.  Other times we drove to Waco to visit 2Dee (Mom’s father).

Sometimes we went on vacations–we visited Padre Island, or Mexico, or Santa Fe.  Once we visited Carlsbad Caverns and got to see all the bats flying out of the caves at night.  We spent a lot of time in the pool at the motel and I learned how to swim there.

For awhile 2Dee and Aunt Annie lived on the farm with us in an old trailer.  I used to sneak over to see them at lunch time and 2Dee would make my favorite meal–a hamburger and cream style corn.

Living on the farm was always an adventure, from the moment we got up in the morning until we went to bed at night.  There was always something to do.  I remember walking with my Dad all over the farm while he peeled an orange and shared it with me.  I remember picking wild berries and eating them or putting them in a pail to bring home so Mom could make a pie or some jam.  I usually ate them all before I could get them home.

I remember planting seeds and picking the fruit and vegetables they bore, feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, milking the cow, and taking turns churning butter from the fresh cream (and Kathy telling her teacher that she couldn’t do her homework because she had to churn butter all night.)  I remember Nancy squirting me with the hose on a hot summer day, or doing a “make-over” on me.  I loved the way it felt when she brushed and played with my long red hair which was usually a rat’s nest after a hard day of playing.  I don’t remember tasting the dog’s food, though everyone said that I did.  I must have blocked that out of my memory.

Mostly I remember the love our family shared together at that time of our lives–as always.  But on the farm–working together, playing together, eating together, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life were undeniably the best times of my youth.

Carmela Rose Worner     The Book Worm

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Bob, Nancy, Mom, Carmela, 2-D & me

Bob, Nancy, Mom, Carmela, 2-D & me

On that first Thanksgiving so long ago the Pilgrims and Indians celebrated and gave thanks for their bountiful harvests.  They shared what they had with each other.  As families get together today, we continue carrying on that same tradition of sharing.  We each contribute our favorite and time honored dishes to the meal, then gather around the table to eat, thankful for each other, as well as the food.  In our family we circle around, holding hands and say grace, thanking God for our bounty.  There is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day.  Personally, I am thankful that I still have both of my parents with me, and that I have such a wonderful and loving family.

As my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal, I chose to make my grandfather’s pecan pie recipe.  I’m not a cook.  Most of the stuff I try to make ends up in the trash or down the garbage disposal.  :)  The other day when I was making this pie, I whispered a silent plea of help to my grandfather.  I imagine he heard me from his place in Heaven and whispered words of encouragement in my ear as I mixed the ingredients together.  I was pretty much holding my breath as the first bite was consumed.  Once the rave reviews started coming in, I breathed a sigh of relief and was SO thankful that I hadn’t messed it up.  I was truly amazed to get the best compliment from husband later on when he said he wished I had made two pies!

I think Thanksgiving is a wonderful tradition.  And  I’m really thankful my part of the cooking, and baking is all over and done with…until Christmas anyway.

Kathy Williams   The Book Worm

 

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From Laughter to Tears

 

From L to R Kathy, Nancy, Cousin Becky, Carmela, Bob

From L to R Kathy, Nancy, Cousin Becky, Carmela, Bob

Kathy touched my heart by bringing back a glimpse of the “good old days” when she told about her encounter with the butter churn.  In my mind, she was talking about some of the best days of my life. It all began when we bought a little farm in Harleton, Texas, about seventeen miles from my workplace at the Marshall News Messenger.

Margaret had always dreamed about living on a farm, and when we heard about the 25-acres of land with a good house, we bought it. How nice this will be for our four kids, we thought. I had grown up on a farm, and I knew that everything would not be “peaches and cream” even if you owned a cow and a peach tree.  But we thought the kids would enjoy the space, being close to Mother Nature, and would like digging in the dirt and seeing plants grow. Kathy told about her encounter with the bees, and the churn.  But she did not mention how her siblings reacted to their bucolic surroundings.  So I will tell a little bit more about those good old days.

One day I left Bob with the task of hoeing weeds out of our watermelon patch.  Instead of doing the work, he hitched a ride into town and spent the day with friends. Margaret was frantic when he didn’t show up for lunch, but after making a few telephone calls she found him in Marshall visiting friends.  I was disappointed that my number one field hand didn’t like farm work.

Nancy didn’t take to farm work very well, either.  I gave her a little task of working in our garden with a rake.  After a short time she threw down the rake and wrote a poem that went something like this: “Did you ever get a finger ache?”

Well, I did.

All that it will take

Is about a dozen hours with a rake

And there you have a finger ache.”

We all got a laugh about that, but I was beginning to get the picture.  My kids were meant to be city kids.  They were ready to give all this wild stuff back to Mother Nature.  By this time we had a dog with puppies, a cow and calf, and lots of chickens, but my kids preferred life in the city.

We were dug in on the farm with no easy way out.  Then, something happened that I thought would surely renew their interest in country life.  It happened on Easter Sunday after Mass when I was walking around our acres.  Carmela, who was about four years old, was with me.  We walked beyond the barn into the field where we found a baby rabbit snuggled in its den.  How appropriate for Easter Sunday, I thought.  I wanted everyone in the family to see the beauty in this.  Just walk out in the field and there’s a baby rabbit, a perfect symbol of the season.

I said to Carmela, “Let’s take it to the house and show it to the family, and then we will bring it right back and put it where its mother will find it.”

Everyone wanted to hold the little creature and pet it, and soon the dog became interested in the smell, and the cats were gathering around as well.  The inevitable happened.  The little bunny jumped out of my hand and started running, but the dog and the cats were faster than the rabbit.  We tried to stop them before disaster happened, but we could not.  That little bunny never made it back to its mother.  What a sad feeling that gave us!  It started us thinking that maybe we didn’t belong out here in the wild.  We were just messing things up for Mother Nature.

A.D. Rose

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